Zimbabwe bus operator fined R420k for trying to enter SA without passengers’ passports.
The Department of Home Affairs has fined Zimbabwe-based Rimbi Travel and Tours Bus Service more than R400,000 after a bus arrived at the Beitbridge Border Post with passengers who did not have passports.
The bus operator has been given until the end of business on Tuesday to pay R420, 000 for breaching the Immigration Act, or the department will recover the money through legal means.
According to home affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza, on 29 March 2021, a driver of a Rimbi Travel and Tours bus arrived at the border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe with 28 passengers who did not have passports.
The driver and the bus company were subsequently fined R420,000 for transporting passengers without appropriate travel documents.
Qoza said since then, Rimbi Travel and Tours Bus Service has been appealing the fine in terms of the immigration laws, but their appeal was rejected.
He said transport companies that want to enter South Africa with passengers who do not have valid passports and visas, where required, are fined, denied entry, and ordered to return such passengers to the sending country.
The fine is payable within 30 days of issue.
“The minister of home affairs determined in a Government Gazette of 03 June 2014 that any conveyor [transport business] that contravenes the provisions of section 35(9), will be liable for a fine of R15,000 for each person who arrives at a port of entry without appropriate travel documents.
“Section 35(9) of the Immigration Act places on the person in charge of a transport business the responsibility of ensuring that all foreign passengers traveling through a port of entry have valid passports and relevant valid visas for their travel,” Qoza said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi warned that anybody that does not respect the country’s immigration laws will face consequences.
“Immigration laws of the republic apply to everyone equally. In particular, conveyances that engage in smuggling of persons across the country’s borders will face the full might of the law,” Motsoaledi said.
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EIGHTEEN border control security officers, who were part of a joint operation code-named No to Cross-border Crime, on Monday appeared at the Beitbridge Magistrates Court facing abuse of office charges after they allegedly accepted a R2 000 bribe from a bus crew driving through the border town.
They were represented by Muchihwande Sithole of Sithole, Chauke and Associates.
Allegations are that on March 12, the 18 drawn from various government departments across the country were deployed to Chicago roadblock near the border town.
They allegedly accepted the bribe not knowing that a trap had been
The Police Anti-Corruption Unit agents aboard a Sable Bus arrested the officers after they received the alleged bribe.
In court, their lawyer argued that the arresting police officers failed to film the alleged acceptance of the bribe.
But prosecutor Tinayeishe Matenga said the suspects had knowledge of the law yet they acted in common purpose to commit the offence.